COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
It looks like a rainy January, with the first day of the year greeting us with a cold rainy day. My daughter and I strode downhill at dusk from the last house on a hill at San Gerardo Heights, walking under the falling rain, savoring the wide expanse of space and quiet as we moved down to get a ride back to the heart of the city.
New Year’s Eve we spent at my friend’s home, eating noche buena with an air of solemnity, and reveling at the sight of fireworks that greeted the New Year, most especially at the set of pyrotechnics that burst from our neighbor’s house. A year indeed has passed, and the day spent in that house surrounded with underbrush that scales to the top of the hill was a break away from time.
The coming of a new year indeed is a cause for celebration, not only for us to make a fresh start through time but more so to keep our sanity intact. Living our lives by the day at the least and by the year at the most, can somehow preserve our consciousness from suffering a glut of information and events we have to absorb. There is only so much that our senses can bear, without getting numbed or desensitized.
The year that passed was filled with great tragedies, natural and man-made, which accounted for the loss of so many people’s lives. There was the typhoon Ondoy that did not only claim lives but challenged our flood control systems, housing development projects, weather forecasting, environmental planning, and disaster management. A lot of things need to be corrected and done.
Then there was the mass killing in the Maguindanao massacre which blew up our senses as the incident defies reason and our sense of humanity. The gruesome murders opened the lid of a Pandora box, bringing into light the existence of private armies, of exorbitant corruption in local government, of a suppressed population living in abject poverty, and the stark reality of a failed State.
The coming of a new year and making a fresh start does not mean that we have to forget the dark events that came into our lives, be it in the national or personal level, but that we may be able to see them in a more objective light and act on things that need to be done, for some things need to be done. Forgetting is not a way out of darkness because ignoring the dark is to continue living in the dark.
Yet obsessing with the dark, magnifying it and giving it more energy is also not a way to light or liberation. Thoughts occupy a place in space and like molecules, tend to aggregate according to likeness. Thought centers are formed; let us say, terror – and a thinker may contribute to its size and influence and in turn be influenced by it, making people “think in droves like sheep.” Is it any wonder why corruption and violence in our society proliferates?
So as we face a new year ahead, which does not start with a clean slate but is a consequence of our immediate past and partly still a continuance of a more distant past, we have to deal squarely with the dark and change what needs to be changed. But time, despite its continuity, offers space for new things to come, for good seeds to germinate, for creativity, and for the right values and principles to preserve. And as we build within ourselves and our society the bright things in life, the dark things will eventually be pushed out of the rim – a year at a time.